Thursday 26 April 2012

A History of Designed Landscapes in New Orleans

Sally O'Halloran got in touch to flag up what in her opinion is a fascinating study of the history of both public and private spaces in New Orleans.  I cannot offer an opinion as I have yet to read the tome, but according to the publicity, 'Landscape architect Lake Douglas employs written accounts, archival data, historic photographs, lithographs, maps, and city planning documents many of which have never been published until now to explore public and private outdoor spaces in New Orleans and those who shaped them. The result, Public Spaces, Private Gardens: A History of Designed Landscapes in New Orleans, is the first in-depth examination of the city's landscape history.'

Would anyone care to submit a review?

Trouble at Craig-y Nos

According to WalesOnline, a row has blown up over the state of the 16 ha (40 acres) of landscaped grounds - now a Country Park - that surround Craig Y Nos Castle in Brecon.   
The gardens were the pride and joy of the Victorian opera star Adelina Patti and were described thus in the April 08 1882 issue of the Gardeners’ Chronicle (vol.17, p.464) from which the illustration is also taken:
'The gardens, and all that pertain thereto, are entirely original, and have been formed and constructed from the plans and under the superintendence of Mr. William Barron, Garden Architect, &c., Sketty, Swansea, to whom Madame Patti intrusted the work. Mr. Barron is, we understand, a pupil of the late Sir J. Paxton, at Chatsworth, nearly forty years ago, but is no old-school practitioner— on the contrary, a glance at the light, elegant, and beautiful designs here shown will, we venture to say, place him as one of the first of the day.  A special feature here are the steep grassy slopes or terraces in front of the Castle ; these, although not yet completed, were a work of no mean character - the quantity of soil required in their formation being astonishing. How much better these grassy slopes look than the ordinary inevitable terrace walling, and how much less costly ! We have before noted Mr. Barron's mode of forming these grassy slopes in other parts of the country, and it appears to us his style is particularly pleasing, inexpensive, and quite unique. The conservatory attached to the Castle measures 80 feet by 27, having a ridge-and-furrow roof, the side-lights with glass near to the ground all forming doors that maybe opened at pleasure to go out on the terrace at any point.'

The current owner of the castle, Martin Gover has taken the owners of the park - Brecon Beacons National Park Authority (BBNPA), to task for their lack of maintenance and care saying that the park is ‘It is more a wasteland of debris than a park.    Tourism operator Ashford Price has weighed in claiming that the park would be ‘hardly worthy of a third world state’.  For their part BBNPA says it is relying heavily on volunteers to maintain the park  in the current tough economic times and has given assurances that it values the park highly.

A sad state of affairs and we will await further developments. 

Wednesday 25 April 2012

More Photographs

Edward Steichen with delphiniums (c. 1938), Umpawaug House (Redding, Connecticut). Photo by Dana Steichen. Gelatin silver print. Edward Steichen Archive, VII. The Museum of Modern Art Archive

On the subject of garden photography, GardenHistoryGirl has posted about Edward Steichen, who and I qoute 'is best known for his fashion photography - in the 1930s he was chief of photography for Condé Nast publications, which included Vogue and Vanity Fair. But one of the great photographer's lesser known roles was as President of the Delphinium Society of America.  His archives at the Eastman Kodak House contain an entire section known as the Delphinium Papers, devoted to his passion for plant breeding.'

Monday 23 April 2012

Historic Garden Photos by Frances Benjamin Johnston

Flagstones Charles Clinton Marshall house, 117 East 55th Street, New York, New York. Tea house/sleeping porch, 1921–1922

A very interesting post and beautiful post on Design Sponge featuring Some lovely early American garden photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864–1952) who was one of the earliest American female photographers.  According to the Library of Congress she 'Trained at the Académie Julian in Paris, she studied photography upon her return to Washington, D.C., in the mid-1880s and opened a professional studio circa 1890. Her family's social position gave Johnston access to the First Family and leading Washington political figures and launched her career as a photojournalist and portrait photographer. Johnston turned to garden and estate photography in 1910s.'

The collection of more than 1,000 of Frances's hand-colored garden (and house) photos has been added to this online catalogue of the Library of Congress, and contains wonderful stuff!

Moreover, the photographs are also the subject of a just-published,  400-page book by Sam Watters entitled Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

 The book includes informative essays that describe the importance of Johnston’s work with gardens and explain the techniques she used to compose lantern slides that resemble delicate miniature paintings. In addition, Watters gives information about the current state of the gardens today - a very valuable tool for garden historians.

Sunday 22 April 2012

The Howe Garden at Cheekwood Reopens

Larry McCormack/The Tennessean/WBIR 10
Considered by many to be a major piece of Nashville's history, the Howe Garden at Cheekwood reopened to the public on April 21 after the 'largest and most comprehensive renovation project recently undertaken in the (Cheekwood) botanical garden' costing an estimated $835,000. 

The garden is named for Harry and Cora Howe, an East Nashville couple who first opened their woodland wildflower garden, known as Wildings, to the public in 1929.  Every spring thousands of  visitors would flock to enjoy the trilliums, Virginia bluebells, trout lilies and celandine poppies.  In 1969, following the Howes’ deaths, the Garden Club of Nashville transplanted the garden to Cheekwood and there it is, ready to welcome visitors once again.

Friday 20 April 2012

Job Opportunity in Australia

The Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust in Australia is looking for a new Chair of the Board of Trustees - more here.

The California Botanic Garden of Mandeville Canyon

The California Botanic Garden in Brentwood's Mandeville Canyon. Courtesy of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society Clearwater Collection, Santa Monica Public Library.

A fascinating piece from giving the history of what was planned to be Los Angeles's finest botanical gardens.  In 1928 the California Botanic Garden, the brain child of  businessman and naturalist H. C. Oakley, opened  in the hills of Brentwood.  The aim was to plant 800 acres of land in the Mandeville Canyon, part of the Santa Monica Mountains, and to create a huge botanic garden.  Sadly the Great Depression got in the way and the gardens closed in 1935.  A sad story but an interesting one nonetheless.

Thursday 19 April 2012

Exhibition on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Image courtesy of the Foundling Museum showing Vauxhall Gardens in 1751
Back in January I touched on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in a post on the  redevelopment of the Royal Docks as a pleasure gardens for the London Olympics.  

Now, an exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London (11 May to 9 September) explores the reasons behind the success of the Gardens over such a long period.
History Today has a sneak preview of some of the images.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Does any one know anything about the gardens at Cefntilla Court?

Cefntilla Court.  Photo attrib. Andy Dolman

The Garden History Society has posted a request for information about the gardens of Cefntilla Court (the link is to a Wikipedia article) near Usk in Monmouthshire.  The Court together with 63.5 acres has been put up for sale by the heirs of Lord Raglan (of Charge of the Light Brigade fame / infamy) for £2 million.  

And according to sale documents 'a large drawing room looks out over the immaculate landscaped gardens, with a pond, an ornamental bridge and a row of yew topiary clipped into apple and pear shapes.'

If any one knows more, please do drop me a line or contact the GHS.  Thank you.

New Books on Chinese Garden Histoty

The China Daily reports that a two-volume book an the history of the country's gardens from 1840-1949 has been commissioned and the first volume published.  And that a book on the garden history of Nanxun, a town of rivers and lakes in north of Zhejiang province built in 1252 during the Southern Song Dynasty was published in March.

However, the article does not give titles and so I am assuming that they are only in Chinese - pity.  But if anyone discovers otherwise, do let me know.

Poulton Hall gardens open April 21 & 22

The Walled Garden at Poulton Hall
The Wirral News reports an opportunity to visit the gardens at Poulton Hall which have a strong Alic in Wonderland theme.  The garden, will be open to the public under the National Gardens Scheme this Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22, from 2pm to 5.30pm.

Tuesday 17 April 2012

More on John Evelyn's Sayes Court

Plan of Sayes Court garden in 1692
The blog Depford Is reports on a Council for British Archaeology press release concerning the on-going issues surrounding development of Convoy's Wharf in Depford and threats to the adjacent remains of Sayes Court. 

The blog London's Lost Garden which is dedicated to Sayes Court (from which the above picture is taken) has an interesting piece which also mentions a Study Day all about Evelyn and his garden being hosted at the Linnæan Society on 25 April and organised by the London Historic Parks and Gardens Trust  and the Garden History Society.  There is more information and a booking form on the Garden History Society website.

More Rousham

A post from Thinkingardens...

Garden Sculpture

An interesting piece from Auction Central News.  Of the above, 'Edith Barretto Parsons (1878-1956) sculpted a collection of charming youngsters holding animals for use as fountain figures. A bronze version of her ‘Fish Baby,’ circa 1920, sold for $9,000 in the spring 2011 auction. Courtesy Kamelot Auctions.

Monday 16 April 2012

My New Book is Published Today

Yea!  Today is the day that my new book - Heritage Fruits and Vegetables (with photography by Clay Perry) - is officially published by Thames and Hudson.  The link to the left takes you to the relevant Amazon page where you can take a peek inside the covers.

The American edition, Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables, is published on 31 May.  

The Georgian Garden

A nice piece in Savista Magazine by Margaret Prowling on the Georgian garden.  If interested in the subject I have also posed on the English Landscape Garden and William Kent.

Top 10 Gardens

A list of the world's top 10 gardens is offered by The National.  I am sure we can all put together a similar list, and I just did.  But its not that easy to whittle down from thousands of gardens to just ten.  From those I have visited and for what it is worth here is my top 10 historic gardens - in no particular order.  Would love to hear your thoughts and favourites:

1    El Novillero
2    Stourhead
3    Villa d'Este
4    Ryoan-ji
5    The Lingering Garden
6    Chatsworth
7    La Granja
8    Vaux-le-Vicomte
9    Ram Bagh
10  Rousham

Stairway to Heaven

There is a lovely post on Early American Gardens of steps.  Some historic, all beautiful.

Wednesday 11 April 2012

New Facebook Group

In anticipation of the publication on Monday of Heritage (Heirloom if you are American) Fruits and Vegetables I have launched a Facebook Group of the same title. 

The group can be visited  HERE  - you have to sign into Facebook to view it.  

So, if you or anyone you know are into heritage / heirloom fruuits and veggies, drop by and make some comments and suggestions.

Saturday 7 April 2012

More on the fight to save the Hannah Carter Japanese Garden....

Reported by The Rafu Shimpo .....

Does anyone have a spare $14.7 million to save the house and garden?

Paradise Gardens listed on National Register of Historic Places

Rev. Howard Finster (1915-2001)
The late Rev. Howard Finster was one of the best known American folk artists of the last half-century, and his art appeared on the covers of albums / CDs by REM, Talking Heads U2, Blackhawk and The News Boys, and his Paradise Gardens were also used as a location for music videos.

The Chapel
According to the Los Angeles Times, Finster 'always considered his masterwork to be the Paradise Garden behind his house in out-of-the-way Chattooga County, Georgia.'  Here on a 4-acre site the Reverend created a garden of 'murals, plants, sculptures, biblical visions and curious homemade buildings (which were) were the artist's attempt to echo God's work described in the Book of Genesis.'

Since Finster's death in 2001 the garden has fallen into disrepair.  Thankfully, in February this year, A  non-profit organisation, the Paradise Garden Foundation, purchased the site for $125,000 with the aim of fully restoring it.  A big step has been taken, for as reported by the  Rome News Tribune, the Paradise Gardens has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Mosaic Garden
According to the Foundation's website, the garden is 'quite simply, a work of art… a masterpiece in it’s own right. Included on the property are the Gardens, , Paradise Gardens Art Gallery, and of course, the World’s Folk Art Chapel.  Howard started the Gardens in 1961 before he received his vision telling him to create sacred art in 1976. Years of compiled art make up the maze of structures and sculptures. Everything in the Gardens has a meaning. Incorporating all kinds of recycled materials into his art, Howard used bottles, glass, mirrors, cement, bathtubs, toilets, “garbage” such as rusted bicycle frames and cast off jewelry… you name it, it’s there. Howard had an amazing way of combining text and strong visual forms, so that you have no doubt about his evangelical purpose. His calling as a preacher comes to life here at Paradise Gardens, and by using his art, he created sermon after sermon. Of visual art, he said, “Visual art is a great thing. It draws the attention of people. That’s what peoples’ work does. It preaches for them after they’re gone.” Yes… it certainly does.'

A grand opening is scheduled for May 5 when the garden once again opens to the public.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Minoan Frescoes -do they show gardens?

Reconstruction of the fresco from the villa at Agia Triadha, by M.A.S. Cameron. LM IA, c 1600-1500 BC
Back in December I posted the question, did the Minoans make gardens? It is a question that will probably never receive an absolute answer.  But on the subject of interpreting Minoan landscape frescoes and the possibility that they depict sacro-religious gardens, I've just discovered a post on the blog Art History Attacks.  More fuel for the fire!

Virginia's Historic Garden Week

Organised by the Garden Club of Virginia, this is just a reminder that April 21 through 28 is Historic Garden Week in Virginia when 'visitors are welcomed to more than 250 of Virginia's most beautiful gardens, homes and historic landmarks during "America's Largest Open House."' 

The Historic Garden Week website has is a heap of information about tours, events and the guidebook in electronic form.  Only wish I was in in Virgina for the week!

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Devon Garden Detectives Day

On Tuesday 17 April the Devon Rural Archive is offering a Devon Garden Detectives Day. Highlights of the day will be a talk by keynote speaker Carolyn Keep of the Devon Gardens Trust and a guided tour of the beautiful private gardens at Shilstone.  More information and how to book from This is Plymouth.

Thomas Jefferson & his passion for gardening

For non-American readers, Thomas Jefferson was not only a Founding Father and the 3rd President of the United States, but also a keen gardener.  His garden at his home of Monticello (he himself designed the house and the property is a UNESCO World Heritage site) just outside Charlottesville in Virginia has been restored and is open to the public. 

Cover of Jefferson's Gardening Book (© Massachusetts Historical Society)
And this interesting article in The Daily Progress explores his leather-bound gardening book, which is in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  In addition, you can also browse the electronic version of the book which has been prepared and is made available by the MHS.

Monday 2 April 2012

17th Century Garden Design For Women

OK, I know the illustration shows men at work!
Should you be looking for an inspiring start to this Monday morning, may I suggest you read Deborah Swift's fascinating post at English Historical Fiction.  It is an introduction to William Lawson's A New Orchard and Garden (1618) which included The Country Housewifes Garden and Swift asserts is 'credited with making gardening popular for women'.  

There is another article on Lawson's tome by the Glasgow University Library and should you wish to read the text the 1626 edition is available from our good friends at the Biodiversity Heritage Library.